Archive for the ‘Political Philosophy’ Category

Colonization and All That: All Over, And Not the Worst!

August 25, 2018

The first indication that people are evil-minded is when they too readily, and too frantically, diabolize others… And diabolizing colonists, and their descendants, falls in that category. And that fall, as we will see, is particularly deep, and not self-conscious: indeed, most of the world population descends from colonists. And most the greatest successes of humanity, of its greatest civilizations, derived from colonizations. (When some scatterbrains encountered these remarks of mine, they rushed to call me a colonialist; that, of course, is one more error! Seeing the good side and the ubiquitousness of many colonizations doesn’t mean all colonizations were good: some were horrific abominations… Agricultural Europe itself was the bloom of a colonization from the Fertile Crescent…)

The human species is a colonizing species. Colonization has many potential dimensions. For example, it can be ideological: Indonesia was colonized that way from India (Buddhism), later from Arabia (Islam), and then from the Dutch. (Arguably since, by the CIA and its ilk.)

Yet, French president Macron, anxious to please North African dictatorships, recently called “colonization” a crime against humanity… a real barbarity“. Problem: over last 3,000 years most of Earth got mostly occupied by colonizers: all the Americas, Oceania, most of Africa, nearly of Europe, Japan, Indonesia, arguably most of China, etc.

Afghanistan was colonized by Achaemenid Persians, Greeks, Buddhists, Hindus, Mongols, Islamists, Moghols, Persians again, etc. Can we say Brits, Soviets and US/UN colonized Afghanistan? Not really the correct semantics! A return to correct human ethology is no colonization!

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Politics Is Practical Philosophy, Yet, Philosophy:

Long ago, the tyrant of Syracuse got the top literary prize in Athens. It is traditional for philosophers to despise politics. Yet, most worthy philosophers were deeply entangled with politics, when not with politicians themselves: I know of no exceptions. But I want to generalize that: I would claim that, shockingly enough, most worthy politicians were philosophers. Whether they claimed to be so or not, is besides the point. Most influential politicians implemented new philosophies, not to say religions (Muhammad). Sometimes the new philosophy was implemented most spectacularly: think of Czar Peter the Great not just torturing to death “Old Believers”, and forcefully modernizing Russia into the West European model… under the penalty of death.

Some have objected there is no philosophy in, say, Julius Caesar’s writings. Well, there was enough for him to be the leader of the “Populares”. Caesar, a “populist“! And so on. Out of the top 30 leaders of Rome, all of them led philosophically. Even when Agrippina, the mother of Nero, imposed herself as Rome’s leader, to a macho Senate, she was doing a philosophical work, and opening the way to Augusta Galla Placidia, and several Frankish queens, the most important of who would outlaw slavery in 658 CE.

Eliminating slavery was also an eminent philosophical work. Interestingly, Saint Bathilde’s order was not preceded by the establishment of an entire anti-slavery philosophy by some eminent philosopher. Christianism pretty much ignored slavery as a problem, and the then just established Islam, took it for granted. The first eminent philosopher to condemn slavery was Bathilde herself… Yes, Bathilde, herself the top politician, the top ruler of her time in Europe, the Merovingian queen and ex-slave herself!

All the Americas Are Colonial. So Is Europe, Invaded by the Celto-Germans (among others). So is China, which has been pretty much colonized by the Han…

Although the West of China was colonized by Indo-Europeans who brought a lot of technology, (and killed the men, keeping the women for breeding, as modern genetics reveal).

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All Politicians, Including Macron, Trump, Are Philosophers, Whether They Know It, or Not:

It’s not just Voltaire, Adam Smith, Rousseau, De Sade, Goethe, Herder, Hegel, Ricardo, Marx, Proudhon, Nietzsche who can be viewed as having forged much of today’s contemporary debate. When Earl Grey delivered a let’s-declare-war-to-Germany discourse in Parliament, August 2, 1914, a certain idea of what civilization was and entailed was loudly defended. Philosopher Bertrand Russell disagreed so deeply he was thrown in prison for his pro-Kaiser, pro-German plutocracy stance. Earl Grey was philosophically right, Russell was wrong.

And of course, Kant, Hitler were “philosophers”, in the sense that hundreds of millions Europeans thought they would “guide” them towards better worlds. Thanks to idiotic, self-contradictory, most inferior, extremely lethal ideologies. But philosophy is relative, like time itself.

Indeed, both wisdom (sophia) and love (philo) are relative. The wisdom of a slug is not that of a sea otter (their time perceptions are not the same, to start with). Hitler’s idea of wisdom was mostly demented (it could only hurt what he claimed to defend), and his idea of love was akin to the self-love of a suicidal maniac (Hitler engaged in a war he was sure to lose, in spite of a miraculous victory in a battle against France… a victory which made it all the more certain that he would lose the war).

China is a linguistic patchwork which reveals a tormented colonial past. The imperialism of Mandarin is quickly burying all this.

Much of Africa was colonized, by Peuls, Arabs, Bantus. All of North Africa was invaded by the Arabs, and the Arabic language was imposed to the Latin, Berber and Coptic speaking populations. When the French invaded Algeria in 1830s (in part to fight piracy and Ottomans alike), they used as an argument that they, as heirs of Rome, were coming back, with a modern version of Latin, the old language of civilization there… It’s a fact that Arabic was imposed on non-genetically Arabic population: a successful colonization, linguistically, religiously, and socially…   

African colonization by Europeans in the late Nineteenth Century was driven by the subtle argument that, to stop slavery in Africa, Europe had to take control. That may sound outrageous, but it is a fact that European powers were successful in stopping slavery in Africa (with some exceptions, like Mauretania). Also the argument is so good, it has been reused by the European Union and the United Nations themselves since: the idea was that some parts of Africa needed to be put under tutelage. A few decades ago, it meant the full power of UN embargoes was used to destroy racist regime (in Rhodesia, South Africa). More recently aid to say the Republic of Congo was given, but only protected by accounting from UN, and, or EU. The chief of Sudan was accused of crimes against Humanity by the International Court of Justice (a UN agency based in La Hague). The lightning military interventions of France in CAR, Ivory Coast, and Mali were all approved by the UN.

My own dad, a senior geologist, was employed by the UN in Cameroon, and Kenya to check that UN financed geological prospecting was done correctly.

Much of this doesn’t have to do with “colonization”, but with correct administration, and what has long been called the “mission civilisatrice”… which Caesar himself indulged in Gaul, when, among other things, he forcefully replaced the Helvetii where they came from (Helvetia).

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Horrendous Colonizations:

There are plenty of abominable “colonizations”. Except they are not really “colonizations”. Some are outright exterminations which the Mongols instrumentalized, to encourage awe and obedience, all over. Real colonizations should involve colonists, Roman style (the Romans gave both the word and the semantics). For example, the exploitation of Congo by king Leopold of Belgium hardly deserves the label of “colonization”. The invasion of Mesoamerica by the Spaniards was a colonization, and it incorporated abominable ways, and outright aggressions the aim of which was to destroy civilizational diversity.

An example is the colonization of the Tarascan state (west, and enemy of the Aztecs). This was gratuitous, and highly controversial in Spain. The main Spanish perpetrator lived a long life, and always refused to recognize his crime, which was deliberate (conquistador in chief Cortez had agreed with a modus vivendi with Tarascan). Basically he held that Christian/Spanish civilization couldn’t allow a competing model to survive.

Roman colonizations involved instead retired legionaries invited to exploit agriculturally some land distributed by the Roman state (such land was aplenty after war). That was somewhat more civilizing and pacific. There were bloody revolts against Roman colonists, but rarely (the most famous being that led by Boudicca in Britain).

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Semantics Can Make No Prisoners:

The foremost reason to write against the wholesale condemnation of “colonialism” is that it’s deeply unintelligent, as it makes no distinction, and choses the easy way out of condemning all of humanity (as Buddha initially did, before he realized the gross errors of his early fanaticism). Condemning “colonialism” is also deeply hypocritical: it implicitly pretends that those who do the condemning aren’t at all like those they condemn. But of course they are: tribal chief at 39 years of age of armed forces capable of killing 50 million people in half an hour, Macron exists, but shouldn’t… While they pretend to be better than what they condemn, “colonialism”, Macron and his ilk are actually worse than anything humanity conceived before.

Right, it’s not exactly the fault of the top politicians: somebody needs to tell them, that their Politically Correct spewing is now viewed for what it is: not very smart. Somebody they will hear. More sophisticated ideologies need to spread (but they won’t come from official philosophers, salaried where they are, because they support the establishment). It’s not enough to go cackle around against “colonialism”.  It’s actually counter-indicated…

There is as much colonialism as they are colonialism, and colonies. An example is that the Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, English and Russian colonies in the Americas differed deeply, in the philosophies which guided them. It is a fact that the English colonialism was the most exterminationist.

Patrice Ayme